As a part of Rahi Foundation’s peer education programme, their cause ambassador, actor-writer Nandana Dev Sen, conducted a session on child sexual abuse and incest at Behala College on July 14. Around 150 students of the college participated in this awareness programme, where terms like “victim”, “survivor” and “abuser” were explained.
Nandana pointed out that child sexual abuse had become an urgent national crisis, with around 53 per cent of children in India facing some kind of sexual abuse.
A documentary was screened on child sexual abuse in India, titled Colours Black, where real-life survivors narrated their stories. This was followed by an interactive session, where students freely discussed incest and child sexual abuse. The session covered various aspects of the topic, ranging from why survivors should speak up about their experiences to how most parents of victims of child sexual abuse are in a state of denial.
“It is very important to have such seminars in colleges, both for survivor healing and for advocacy. Our peer education programme has been a highly successful way of engaging college students for both. And yes, it is equally important to find ways of talking about it in schools as a preventive measure. Addressing teachers and parents would be a great start. It is a huge problem that we don’t have more programmes that raise awareness about child sexual abuse, which is an urgent and neglected crisis nationwide. We don’t have sex education, reproductive health or life skills programmes for children. On the positive side, we do have better laws now because of POCSO, though awareness and implementation of it remain inadequate. Still, there is greater acknowledgement now about the existence of child sexual abuse and the fact that we are talking about it more is a step very much in the right direction,” Nandana Dev Sen told t2 after the session.
Text: Soham Ghosh
Pictures: Koushik Saha